Sriwijaya eyes turboprops as it mulls E-190 cancellation

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Indonesia's Sriwijaya Air could cancel its tentative agreement for 20 Embraer 190 regional jets as it considers the viability of turboprop aircraft for its operations.

The privately-owned carrier signed the tentative agreement for the E-190s in 2011. However, it is now putting plans for the regional jets on hold as it evaluates the ATR 72 and the Bombardier Dash 8 Q400, says its corporate planning and business development director Jefferson Jauwena, in an interview with Flightglobal Pro in Jakarta.

This is because of the difficulties it faces in recruiting pilots for the E-190s, especially since no other Indonesian carrier operates the type, he adds.

"It might be more worth it to operate short-haul routes using turboprops, especially with the fuel price now," he says.

"If we do decide to get turboprops, it's possible that we'll drop the E-190s. A decision is likely to be made by the end of the year or early next year."

The airline can deploy its 12 Boeing 737-500s on the routes that it had planned to use the E-190s on, and therefore minimise costs associated with training and recruiting new pilots, says Jauwena.

Sriwijaya said in 2011 that the E-Jets fit the strategy of developing new non-stop markets that are not economically viable with larger aircraft.